John Hubley

John Hubley
Born (1914-05-21)May 21, 1914
Marinette, Wisconsin, United States
Died February 21, 1977(1977-02-21) (aged 62)
New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Occupation Animator
Years active 1937–1977
Spouse(s) Claudia Ross (1941–1954) (divorced)
Faith Hubley (1955–1977)

John Hubley (May 21, 1914 – February 21, 1977) was an American animation director, art director, producer and writer of traditional animation films known for both his formal experimentation and for his emotional realism which stemmed from his tendency to cast his own children as voice actors in his films.


Hubley was born in Marinette, Wisconsin to John Raymond Hubley (1880–1959) and Verena K. Hubley (1891–1978), a painter.[1] In 1935, he gained a job as a background and layout artist at Disney, where he worked on such classic films as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi, as well as "The Rite of Spring" segment from Fantasia.

On February 25, 1939, the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright visited the studio, and brought with him a copy of the Russian animated movie The Tale of the Czar Durandai (1934), directed by Ivan Ivanov-Vano, which he showed to the artists, among them Hubley. Wright thought that the different style and design, that was very different from the typical Disney animation, would inspire and give the animators new ideas. Hubley liked what he saw and was influenced by it. He left the company during Disney animators' strike in 1941, and found work directing films for Screen Gems and the Army's First Motion Picture Unit until he joined United Productions of America which was founded by Stephen Bosustow, Zack Schwartz, Dave Hilberman and former Disney animator Ub Iwerks. UPA soon became known for their highly stylized designs and limited animation.

In 1949 he was the creator of the Mr. Magoo cartoon character, based on an uncle, and directed the first Magoo cartoon with Jim Backus voicing Magoo.

He was forced to leave UPA in 1952 when he refused to name names before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He founded Storyboard Studios the next year and worked on commercials (where he would not be credited) such as creating the Marky Maypo character,[2] but was forced to turn down more exciting projects (such as an adaptation of Finian's Rainbow) because his name was still blacklisted. He moved his studio to New York in 1955, where he switched production over to independent short films.

Hubley was originally the director of Watership Down, until his death which caused producer Martin Rosen to take over. Some of his work, including the opening sequence, remain in the final version.

He married Faith Elliott (September 16, 1924 – December 7, 2001) the same year as the studio's move, and they collaborated on nearly every film he made until his death in 1977 at age 62 during heart surgery; their final production was A Doonesbury Special (with creator Garry Trudeau), which aired on NBC in November of that year. Faith and their four children carried on his legacy in the renamed Hubley Studios. Hubley is survived by his daughters Georgia Hubley, who plays drums and sings for the rock band, Yo La Tengo as well as Emily Hubley, a filmmaker and animator, who has made numerous short films, including animated inserts and segments for documentaries such as Blue Vinyl and the film version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and a feature called The Toe Tactic ( which combines live action and animation.

His two other children with Faith Hubley were Mark and Ray Hubley, whose voices were used for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film-winning Moonbird. Children with Claudia Ross are son Mark Ross Hubley, an accomplished second generation animator; grandson Miles Hubley, film director and editor; and daughters Anne Hubley Ricchiuti and Susan Hubley Blakeley.


The Academy Film Archive has preserved a number of John Hubley's films, including "A Smattering of Spots," "A Doonesbury Special," and "Of Men and Demons."[3]


Screen Gems


Storyboard Studios

National Film Board of Canada


  1. "Menominee Will Show Hubley Art". The Escanaba Daily Press. October 31, 1961. p. 4. Retrieved November 29, 2014 via
  2. "Advertising Mascots > Marky Maypo (Maypo Instant Oat Cereal)". TV Acres. Retrieved 2013-12-15.
  3. "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.

External links

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